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Nearly a year after first considering an “equity resolution” that led to the resignation of the mayor and a city councilor, Creswell will discuss the idea of challenging the governor’s authority.
CRESWELL – Gov. Kate Brown this week announced requirements for eventually reopening the state, and the Creswell City Council plans to discuss what a declaration opposing the state’s COVID-19 protocols might look like.
Brown on Tuesday announced that, when 70% of Oregonians 16 and older receive their first dose, most restrictions statewide will be lifted.
She also announced changes to county risk-level eligibility requirements. Lane will remain in High Risk until May 20. On May 21, counties eligible for the option to move to Lower Risk when 65% of county residents 16 and older receive the first vaccine dose and submit a plan to close vaccine equity gaps.
By presstime, 60.36% of Lane County adults have received at least one dose. County movements will be announced on May 18.
In Creswell, resident John Lee said in a May 1 email to Mayor Amy Knudsen that he would like to see Creswell follow Baker City’s declaration of a crisis as a result of the state’s emergency mandates this last year.
“I would like to know when this type of action will be taken on behalf of the struggling businesses here in Creswell,” Lee wrote.
“I know (these types of declarations are) something that is heating up and a lot of people in Creswell are interested in discussing,” councilor Joe Medina said at Monday’s meeting. Medina did not return Chronicle follow-up phone calls.
City manager Michelle Amberg said that, to her knowledge, the city has not received any other requests for this kind of declaration.
Baker City on March 23 declared an “economic, mental health, and criminal activity crisis due to the current Covid-related state emergency declaration and related OSHA mandates and guidance.”
The Baker City declaration outlines that:
* Pandemic mitigation measures put forth by Brown are “arbitrary, ineffective and draconian.”
* Citizens are capable of making “their private, individual healthcare and lifestyle decisions themselves.”
* While the virus does exist, it is “overwhelmingly survivable and lockdowns do not stop the spread.”
* Baker City has never been overwhelmed with Covid cases.
* Local businesses “directly attribute state lockdown and OSHA guidelines as solely responsible for their inability to earn a living … are on the brink of closure, or have already closed as a result of the emergency declarations.”
* Masking mandates are “actively creating division and unrest.”
* Mental health issues due to social distancing, prolonged isolation or unemployment.
Amberg told The Chronicle that, if Creswell would approve such a declaration, the City would be required to write a letter to the governor encouraging a full reopening of the city and county and provide relief from Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates; support upcoming legislation to provide reparations to business owners; officially support a statewide ballot initiative that would limit the duration and extent of the governor’s emergency powers; and share the resolution with other Oregon cities, counties and media outlets.
“It’s time we stand up for Creswell and just get things going like this (Baker City) mayor has done,” Medina said.
Is a declaration like this feasible for Creswell?
“We will see,” Amberg said.
Knudsen directed Amberg to put the item on an unspecified upcoming work session agenda for discussion. Knudsen did not respond to Chronicle requests.
In other business:
* Council unanimously approved the motion to begin a hearing period in order to name a public facility in honor of late Creswell resident and chiropractor, Tamara Blum. Blum spent decades serving the Creswell community at Creswell Chiropractic and was active in the community. She passed away on Oct. 26, 2018 from complications of peritoneal mesothelioma. Providing there are no objections, after a 30-day public hearing period, a plaque will be placed on the bench located at 24 W. Oregon Ave. – in front of the former Creswell Chiropractic.
* The Lane County Health Department is working with the homeless population in Creswell and Pleasant Hill. Lane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Denham said health department officials are meeting with Creswell’s homeless every week to learn their “unique needs” and try to help get them back on their feet. “Their job is to try to work with those folks to get them on the housing list, find some places for them to land and provide services,” Denham said.